Yeah, yeah. I know. The Patriots were my “10,000-Star LOCK of the New Millenium” against the Broncos. I said I was “two-fists in, all the way up to my elbows.”
Well… Broncos 20, Patriots 18. Up to my elbows in dog shit, that is.
I’ll take my crow with a side of fries, please.
Not that I didn’t have company. Something should have told me it’s never good to be standing on the public side of a 70% play. I heard various estimates of how much the public loved Belichick and Brady. Some said it was nearly 90% of the money (unlikely) others as low as 62%, which would be rather typical for a 3-point favorite. Either way. It just seemed too easy. And it never is in this league.
If only Admiral Akbar was sitting on my shoulder to yell: “It’s a TRAP!”
It’s not the first time I’ve been “loud wrong” on a game or prediction, and it won’t be the last. I won’t even protest to you dear readers all the times I’ve been DEAD RIGHT to nuts on something. It doesn’t matter. You and I know, that ALL of our right/wrong percentages in sports end up somewhere around the 50% line.
When you are a public sports opinion-spewer like myself, then you stand on stage when you are wrong and take the rotten tomatoes from the winners. It’s part of the deal.
That said, being dead wrong is actually a wonderful thing as a sports fan. It means the games, the players, and the moments you watch are still subject to random moments of: “holy SHIT, I didn’t see THAT coming!”
I’d like to point out – if I may, ahem – that even the Denver Broncos brain trust and coach Gary Kubiak were not entirely SOLD on Peyton Manning’s ability to actually win a game anymore. Had Brock Osweiller’s first half in San Diego in Week 17 not been so cursed by bad luck, and dumb fumbles (plus a mistake or two on his part) then perhaps none of this ever happens.
When Manning comes in – in desperation, need I remind you people! – and saves the day with a whopping 6 completions and a bunch of handoffs, it’s not like the whole world said: “Okay, the old man is ready!” Even Kubiak took a day or two to make it official.
So when Manning played as he did against the Patriots, it was a testament to two things: 1) You never know. 2) THEY always know more, than you.
Obviously, the Broncos had been watching Manning in practice and were talking with him and the training staff about his health. THEY knew he was moving much better than the last time we saw him, left for dead and rotting in the wake of that 5-for-20, 4-pick debacle against the Chiefs. It was then they shut him down. And HOO-BOY, whatever they did with him the following 6 weeks should earn the entire Broncos’ body shop a hefty bonus.
When we last left Manning, his foot was a wreck, his throwing base was as rickety as a Jenga tower, and passes were going nowhere. Sunday against the Pats, it was like he had been reborn. Oh sure, it was nowhere near his glory days of 2004, when his YPC was a robust 9.2 (compared to the feeble 5.8 so far this post-season) and he threw 49 TDs on 67% passing. But he drove the ball well enough to open receivers in the 0-20 yard range, and even flung a deep one (inaccurately, but whatever) every now and then just to keep the Pats thinking.
It was when Manning was able to pivot out of a dead-to-rights sack by Jamie Collins who came free through the middle, burst like a rabbit toward the sidelines on his off-hand, and then flush the play without getting touched? Whoa. Where the fuck was THAT move 7 weeks ago?
Manning was brilliant. No two ways about it. As brilliant as a 17-for-32 day could ever be. With a 12 yard first down scramble to boot.
In your face, and shut your yap, Czaban!
Which is also what many Cam Newton fans are saying to those who didn’t think he’d ever be this good. It’s okay for them to have been wrong. If every scout/pundit declared every QB of any college success to be sure fire NFL pro-bowlers, then that would be stupid and useless. Every now and then, somebody has to step out and say: “I don’t think this kid has it.”
The “doubters” were sure right about Johnny Manziel, EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, Brandon Weeden, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman, Jamarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Vince Young, Matt Leinart…. and… well.. do I need to go on?
Many were wrong about Cam. Good for him, for serving up the steaming pile of WRONG!
The flags on Newton were certainly there to urge caution. He was hopelessly lost in his Gruden QB Camp interview, where he couldn’t even rattle off a simple NFL-style play call. He talked after the draft about being more than just a QB, but also a “icon and entertainer.” Yes he could run. But how long would that massive body hold up? Yes he could drive his passes to every quadrant on the field. His motion is hardly textbook, and his accuracy isn’t elite. But it’s more than good enough in combination with the rest of his package.
After his breakout rookie season, he drifted backwards a bit in years 2 and 3. His body language through losses was criticized, and rightfully so: the face of the franchise doesn’t pout on the bench with his head under a towel.
But Newton kept at it, and kept grinding. He got better. And he probably used the doubter’s as motivation. Good for him.
If people didn’t see this coming, or if they kept saying: “Well, keep proving it. Because I’m not sold yet” that’s no crime. Fans have seen can’t miss phenoms like Colin Kapernick and RG3 fall into open manholes. Vince Young was even more immature than we knew. Matty Ice looks like he’s melted. Tim Tebow was, alas, just a fad.
And yet, Blaine Fuckin’ Gabbert may STILL have a promising future in this league. Ain’t that some shit?
Sports are hard, playing QB is the hardest. No other position in any other sport even comes close. Guys fail. Guys struggle. There’s no shame in being wrong. When you are, just admit it and appreciate what it took for that player to stitch you up in a clown suit.
Cam Newton is a spectacular player, who is doing things we’ve never seen by an NFL QB. How can you stop a QB who does the Marcus Allen TD-dive from 4 yards out, at 260 pounds and 6-5? Crazy. Awesome. Spectacular. And the credit, belongs entirely to him.